What is the difference with a Non-iron shirt and how it’s made?

Man wearing Non-iron shirt and suit in London
Nickson – Quick Iron

The “non-iron shirt” – there has been a marketing explosion over the past 20 years of the non-iron, or wrinkle-resistant, shirt. Chances are that if you’ve even attempted to purchase a Formal Shirt / Dress Shirt, you’ve seen this promise.

So how does it work? What causes a shirt to have this magical attribute? Plus, does it differ to other attributes – like being wrinkle-resistant? We will explain all in this post.

The debate on Non-Iron Shirts

Can dress shirts or formal shirts ever truly be non-iron? Many shirt wearers say yes and quite happily slap on their formal shirt in the mornings before work, letting the fabric smooth out in their daily commute whilst sipping their morning coffee. Although, there are many traditionalists that can’t detach themselves from the iron and always need that crisp finish. It seems more of a matter of preference – it just depends on whether you would be satisfied enough without ironing your formal shirt or any shirt for that matter.

Background on Non-Iron Shirts

The non-iron technology is actually just a certain fabric that is treated. Whether you agree or not, there are certain chemicals that go into this process. It does definitely prolong the life of the formal shirt and at least reduces the need for an iron, to some even removing the need for an iron entirely, but what’s the secret ingredient? Formaldehyde. The non-iron shirts are derived from a chemical treatment that releases formaldehyde and bonds the strands of cotton fibres to create a stiffer fabric less likely to wrinkle. This has had some interesting responses from companies.

In the last 20 or so years, non-iron fabric has come along in development and unlike the chemically treated non-iron fabric of the old, proper non-iron shirt fabric can now be made of 100% two-ply cotton, so it feels as comfortable as regular shirt fabric. Nowadays, the non-iron fabric in proper non-iron shirts doesn’t always come from the fibres themselves, but from a special treating process which involves subjecting the finished shirt to high temperatures. This ensures that when the shirt is hung up to dry after washing, it can stay crease-free.

How is a Non-Iron Shirt made?

We’ve summarised the steps that go in to creating a non-iron shirt below:

  1. Shirt design
    The raw dress shirt fabric is measured and cut to the desirable pattern size for each element of the shirt. If you are buying from a large company, the creator of the shirts may source the treated non-iron fabric from a separate manufacturer.
  2. Non-iron treatment
    The formal shirt is then treated with the chemicals (i.e., Formaldehyde) mentioned previously and therefore bonded to the molecules within the fibres of the shirt, making it much more difficult to crease. Once this is complete, the shirt is then heated to high temperatures to secure the benefits of the non-iron shirt.
  3. Pressed, Folded and Packed
    Finally, the shirt is pressed into position for packing, then packed up ready to be sold.

What are the differences between Non-Iron Shirts and Quick Iron Shirts?

Below is a Quick Iron, rather than non-iron shirt – but can you tell the difference?

Nickson does not offer what our competitors would call non-iron but what we do offer is more descriptive and honest – Quick Iron Shirts. The key qualities and differences of the Quick Iron Shirts are below:

  • Quick Iron fabric is meant to be ironed but will take you significantly less time
  • The structure of the fabric also means it dries quicker from the washing machine than other comparable brands
  • The chemicals used to treat the fabric are slightly different (more on this in another post coming soon)

We believe you should always iron your shirt and it is good practice to do so. It will give your shirt that professional and crisp finish that wouldn’t be replicated otherwise. All of our shirts come with this approach, and you can check out our collection below.

See some of our other posts below too: